A blog having anything to do with marginal topics wouldn't really be complete without taking the time to talk about the first family of surfing, the Paskowitz family. The crew includes two parents, Dorian 'Doc' and Juliette, and NINE children (Juliette was pregnant or breast feeding for ten straight years.) They all lived together in one camper, traveling and surfing, before finally landing in Hawaii, where they opened a surf camp and became world renown, as much for their unconventional lifestyle as their surfing skills: the kids didn't go to school, they surfed, and Dorian gave up his career as a doctor to surf full time and travel with his family.
The surf camp has since moved and is run by Izzy Paskowitz, who uses surfing to, amongst other things, connect with children with autism (including his own son.) You can watch more about their particular journey with autism and the role surfing has played in that journey here.
Dorian wrote a book Surfing and Health. He also launched Surfing for Peace. The mission, according the website:
--"Surfing 4 Peace is a person 2 person and cross-border cooperation initiative that aims to bridge cultural and political barriers between surfers in the Middle East."
--“People who surf together, can live together.”
- Doc Paskowitz
If you've yet to see the documentary, Surf Wise (all about the Paskowitz family), I highly recommend it.
I've watched it, oh, about twenty times or so, myself. I watched it for about the eighteenth time the evening before our second daughter was born, actually. I was starting to have some definite pre-labor the night before her birth and was craving our old beach in Hawaii; I wanted to let my body sync up with the waves and feel the weightlessness that only water can provide to a giant pregnant woman. But I was in a new house (still in a lot of boxes), in a new city, with no ocean. So in my pre-labor euphoria, with my own internal waves gently finding their rhythm and gearing up for the big show, I turned to Surfwise. It's spirt (and music) were with me the following morning when I awoke with the sun to a fully active (and very short) labor. I'll always have a giant soft spot for the film for that reason alone, and I'll watch it the night before my baby's birthday every year, I think.
I can tell you that the documentary tends to attract very extreme reactions. People either love or hate the ideologies of Dorian Paskowitz and how he went about raising his children. Personally, I have a split reaction....
I think it's fine to pull out of society and impart your values by way of extreme lifestyle. I love the idea of taking your child out on his birthday to give him his birthday present, and saying "Son, I give you the ocean!" And while it might inspire total panic on my part, I like that Dorian Paskowtiz was jazzed about being down to his last dime, viewing it as a challenge and new beginning for his family.
Live clean, eat clean, surf clean? Hell yes! I'm on board. I am absolutely unbothered by any of the unconventional parenting choices this family made. I aspire to many of the same choices, actually, (though I can certainly understand why much of it would be objectionable for a lot of people.)
What I think it was, specifically, that did not work for this family was the level of control and physical force employed by Dad, the sort of Tiger Mom-eqsue approach to living, eating and surfing clean, not the lack of normal schooling or the wandering, possessionless lifestyle. People grow up to resent being heftily controlled and lectured, rather than guided gently by example. And allowing your children to make choices about their lives and futures--you can still prepare a person to be a doctor, for example, through home schooling-- is better than forbidding them an education if they want one. But the thing is, I think he gets this. He says as much at the end of the film. And I know, I know, damage done, but there's just so much else, so much that's positive, to be taken away from the examples set by this family and their unconventional lives. Watching it always leaves me feeling inspired. It certainly made me feel better about not having pictures on the walls or too many other things worked out at 41 weeks pregnant.
It's really a great lesson in how to properly channel passions and strong convictions, which can really be such wonderful guiding forces for a family if not allowed to run too militant. I think that the Paskowtiz lifestyle, tweaked a bit, is really a beautiful one, and I wish it were met with a bit more openness to it's inspiring aspects.
Also beautiful? The names they wear in this family! Mom and Dad lead the pack with two beautiful names, and the kids follow right on along.
Abraham (this remains a favorite name of mine.)
Israel (Izzy) (love it)
Salvador (another one of my favorites)
Navah (the one and only sister, and such a beautiful name)
What do you think, readers? Have you seen the film? What did you think about it all? What do you think of the names?
Whatever your take on the lifestyle, this family is doing some wonderful things for the world! Thank you, Juliette, Doc and family! Aloha!
(images: 1-6, unless cited otherwise)